Women's History Month - Elizabeth Blackwell

The first woman to receive a medical degree in the US.

Queen Ranavalona III of Madagascar

The last Ruler of Madagascar.

She's Crafty - Microscopic Edition!

Some really cool science inspired crafts!

Happy Birthday - Septima Poinsette Clark

The "Queen Mother" or "Grandmother of the American Civil Rights Movement."

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Kickstart This!

Look. I know I said I'd try to limit how many "Kickstart This!" blog posts I do to help spare your bank accounts, and I really am trying. It's not my fault there are so many amazing projects out there to support! I'm genuinely holding back a whole lot of stuff, and trying to give you the things that deserve the SRPS attention.

Things like The Last Cowboy.

I mean, look at how beautiful this thing is! And the creator Zoe Coughlin is so amazing. You can read the story here, but something this gorgeous and compelling really deserves to be in print. Which is why she needs you all to back her project.
The Last Cowboy is a science fiction story set sometime in the future, many years after humanity made first contact-and contracted a disease which leads them down the slow road to extinction. Now, though humans have fully integrated into a wider galactic society, the dark specter of their fate always hangs over their heads.

You'll be opening up this world to more readers, who really should be able to get know the main characters, Adsila Bell, Luna Silva, and Eve, and the worlds they live in.
The Last Cowboy is about three women whose lives are linked by the discovery of a mysterious alien planet. One lives on it, one studies it, and one is using it to hide their dark secrets. The main characters are Eve, a little girl who was raised by aliens; Adsila, a former activist who now works as a researcher and is dealing with a lot of her own baggage; and Luna, a successful robotics tycoon raising her daughter on earth.
(From her Comics Alliance interview)

This story about these amazing woman (women of color, I'll point out) is really great. The mainstream publishing houses might be a bit hesitant to print the works of women artists telling women's stories, but that doesn't mean there isn't a crying need for these comics. Until the big houses realize they can and will make money on these stories, we'll just have to print them ourselves.
A few years ago I made a pact to myself that I will never write a story about another straight white boy. We have plenty of those. The Last Cowboy is about women of color, for women of color. It also deals a lot with reproductive rights, and feminist issues in general — subjects which I am very passionate about. It’s a story I’ve always wanted to read myself, so I made it myself.
(From her Comics Alliance interview)

I know it's last minute and there are only a few days left to help fund this project. I know that the pledge rewards are a bit higher than for other projects by big name artists, but even a smaller donation would help her toward her goal. And I'm broke, but even I'm giving her a few bucks I can spare. Who needs Starbucks when you've got great comics to read while sipping tea at home, right?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kickstart This!

So you say you need more dragons in your life? Maybe a good RPG where you get to play a dragon? Or it is just me? I mean, OK, I'll admit that I just finished reading The Dragonriders of Pern for the first time last week or so. (I know. I know. Please don't judge.) And now I'm missing my dragon friends.

So when I saw a post about Epyllion on Google+ earlier this week, I got super excited! You mean I can play a dragon? Heck yeah, I'm sooooo in!
Epyllion is a tabletop roleplaying game (RPG) where you play dragons in a dragon-centric world. You are the sons and daughters of the Dragonlords, mighty rulers who need your help to investigate rumors, solve problems, and discover the truth of a growing evil in the land. Along with your fellow dragons, you and your clutchmates will protect Dragonia from the Darkness and discover the true value of friendship. While you play, you’ll explore what dragons do, building on what each of you adds to the story, and exploring the meaning of friendship for yourselves.
Um... yeah. Consider me sold. Forget riding dragons or training dragons, I'm all about BEING a dragon! Of course, my dragon's going to be a princess. But the kind of princess dragon that flies around burning stuff down, chasing off bad folks, and generally just being a kickass dragon fighter!

To put the icing on this amazing dragon cake, here's a great quote from Marissa Kelly, the designer on Contessa. (It's a great interview. Go read the whole thing!)
The concept was born somewhere from my love of dragons and epic fantasy stories, like Lord of the Rings. I always wanted to know more about the dragons in those tales and where they came from.

The process of creating Epyllion was hard and took a lot of effort, but at GenCon 2014 we made our deadline and released the ashcan version of the game: Epyllion: Drake Edition. This was the bare minimum of text and rules needed to play the game. Since then, I have been working with my team to take in feedback, change the rules, and playtest the game to get it just right.
Marissa Kelly, aka Mother of Epyllion

So, seriously, go check out the awesome game Epyllion! I promise you won't be disappointed!

+ + +

Edited to add this fantastic quote Jonathan Perrine left on my G+ post:
I have not had the pleasure of running this game for a young crowd, but I've heard tons of good things from those who have. 

I have run it for grownups, and it draws you right back into this fantastic Saturday morning cartoon - LOTR headspace where what matters most are your friends and the things you believe in, no matter the odds. 

Creating fun, lively encounters is easy for new and experienced GMs, whether it is wise dragon statues or strange hybrid animals making trouble for the Clutch's friends. You just bounce ideas off of your players and cool things come out of your heads and you play in that world, just like that. 

The fact that the entire game revolves around a group of friends is almost more important than the fact those friends happen to be baby dragons trying to save their society of older, cynical dragons from the darkness. - And that last part is pretty important, too.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Dame Ethel Smyth - musician, suffragist, and total bad***

I want to tell you about this amazing woman who accomplished a whole lot in her life, but the Little Hater is keeping me from writing this post the way I think it should be written. So I'm going to try doing it a little bit differently, and see how it turns out. Please bear with me.

Dame Ethel Smyth, DBE
(23 April 1858 – 8 May 1944)

"I feel I must fight for [my music], because I want women to turn their minds to big and difficult jobs; not just to go on hugging the shore, afraid to put out to sea." 
When I first looked at the wikipedia page for her, my first thought was, "Is she related to Maggie Smith?!" (Please tell me you see the resemblance as well.) Then I read her biography and the lists of her accomplishments, and pretty much fell in to head-over-heels adoration. What a seriously kickass woman who pretty much did not have a single f*** to give.
"Because I have conducted my own operas and love sheep-dogs; because I generally dress in tweeds, and sometimes, at winter afternoon concerts, have even conducted in them; because I was a militant suffragette and seized a chance of beating time to The March of the Women from the window of my cell in Holloway Prison with a tooth-brush; because I have written books, spoken speeches, broadcast, and don't always make sure that my hat is on straight; for these and other equally pertinent reasons, in a certain sense I am well known." ― Ethel Smyth
She was a composer when women weren't even accepted as musicians.
From an early age, she was bound and determined to study music with the goal of becoming a composer. Her father was staunchly opposed to it, and even banned her from taking lessons, but that did not stop her. She went on a personal strike of sorts, refusing to eat, refusing to participate in family events, and pretty much just being as disagreeable as possible in order to get her point across. For years the two were locked into their personal battle, and it wasn't until she was an adult that he finally relented and allowed her to take private lessons. She eventually attended the Leipzig Conservatory, where she met many of the prominent musicians of the era, and was able to compose remarkable works that are still celebrated today.
Ethel Smyth’s early piano and theory lessons, taught merely to be ladylike accomplishments, sparked an immediate life-long passion for music. At the age of 12, she announced she would study music at the Leipzig Conservatory. Appalled at this idea and at the intensity Ethel brought to her music studies, her father immediately stopped her lessons. He had not reckoned, however, on his daughter’s strong will and persistence. During her teenage years, Ethel openly rebelled against these constraints, locking herself in her room and refusing to attend meals, church or social functions, unless her father agreed to send her to Leipzig to study composition.

In 1877 he gave in. At age 19, Ethel Smyth traveled to Leipzig, where she studied music with Carl Reinecke at the Conservatory and, privately, with Heinrich von Herzogenberg. A leading cultural center at the time, Leipzig offered Ethel an exciting world of concerts and operas, as well as introductions to Brahms, Clara Schumann, Tchaikovsky and other important composers of the time.
(source: WomenComposers.org)
She was an ardent suffragist.
Upon joining the Women's Social and Political Union she practically gave up her music composition for two years. She was inspired by the women she met and the cause they fought for, and turned her talents to composing "The March of the Women" which quickly became the anthem of the suffragist movement.

A famous rendering of ["The March of the Women"] took place in 1912 at Holloway Prison, after many women activists were imprisoned as a result of a window-smashing campaign. Smyth's part in this had been to break the window of Lewis Harcourt, the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The conductor Thomas Beecham visited Smyth in prison and reported that he found the activists in the courtyard "...marching round it and singing lustily their war-chant while the composer, beaming approbation from an overlooking upper window, beat time in almost Bacchic frenzy with a toothbrush."
(source: Wikipedia)
She was no spring chicken at this time. She was 52 years old when she met, and was instantly infatuated with, Emmeline Pankhurst in 1910, and vowed to spend two years supporting her suffrage cause. She had already had an exciting time living on "the continent" and countless love affairs and adventures. This new passion, though, brought her into contact with exciting and idealistic women of all ages.
Although she joined late, Ethel soon became a key figure in the Women’s Social and Political Union (W.S.P.U.)—the militant branch of the suffrage movement. She participated in demonstrations, made speeches, wrote articles for suffragette publications, and provided shelter for the charismatic leader Mrs. Pankurst during the notorious cat-and-mouse part of the struggle. But her most important contribution was her March of the Women, a song dedicated to the members of the W.S.P.U. Mrs. Pankurst was so delighted with the piece that it was immediately adopted as the battle-cry of the movement.

No matter how much she feared the consequences, Ethel felt that she could not keep her self-respect if she did not take the same risks that many other suffragettes were willing to take. So when Mrs. Pankurst asked for volunteers to break a window in the house of any politician who opposed votes for women, the composer was one of 109 members of the W.S.P.U. who responded. She chose the window of the Colonial Secretary, "Lulu" Harcourt, who had roused her anger by publicly stating that he might agree to votes for women if all women were as well-behaved and intelligent as his wife. Before the constable who was guarding Harcourt's house could stop her, Ethel’s stone found its mark. She was at once arrested and sentenced to two months imprisonment.
(source: The Kapralova Society Journal)
She was an accomplished author, and one of the first women to write her memoir.
Tragically, around the age of 55 she began to lose her hearing. Her music composition slowed, but her passion to create did not. Undeterred, she turned her attention to writing and went on to publish ten books, mostly autobiographical, and all well-received.
I'm awfully proud—that's not the right phrase—that you've started again on the autobiography, partly owing to me. I was thinking the other night that there's never been a woman's autobiography. Nothing to compare with Rousseau. Chastity and modesty I suppose have been the reason. Now why shouldn't you be not only the first woman to write an opera, but equally the first to tell the truths about herself? Isn't the great artist the only person to tell the truth? I should like an analysis of your sex life. As Rousseau did his. More introspection. More intimacy. I leave it to you; for as you see I cant make my pen take my ply this cold morning. —Letter from Virginia Woolf to Ethel Smyth, 24 December 1940
(source: The Musical Quarterly)
She was an all-round kickass woman who railed against the limitations placed on her gender.
After her successful bid against her father to take music lessons and attend the Leipzig Conservatory, it shouldn't surprise anyone that she continued her rebellious ways throughout her life. She wanted to live her life on her own terms, and the often included bucking the expectations placed on a woman of her standing. Although one could make the case that it was precisely her standing and a woman of independent means that allowed her the ability to buck the system without much risk to her.

The majority of her affairs were with prominent women. Her affair with Henry Bennet Brewster may have been her only heterosexual relationship. In 1892, she wrote to him saying, "I wonder why it is so much easier for me to love my own sex passionately than yours. I can't make it out for I am a very healthy-minded person." Does this indicate a sense of shame for her attractions? Or simply the confusion that one might feel when society tells you one thing but your experience is different? I prefer to think it is more of the latter, although I have not read any of her memoirs of yet (they're on the wish list). It seems quite clear from her biographies available online that she never tried to hide her affections or her actions.
Ethel Smyth described her relationships with women in several published volumes of memoirs. She had fallen in love with Pauline Trevelyan, the Empress EugĂ©nie, Winnaretta Singer, Lady Mary Ponsonby, Edith Somerville, and Virginia Woolf. She was a mountaineer, bicyclist, and golfer. She made radio broadcasts including Two Meetings with the Kaiser Before the War in 1937, and My Eightieth Birthday in 1938.(source: Bach-Cantatas.com)
She was ever the trouble-maker. 
When the Women's Social and Political Union were planning their assault on government buildings, she took it upon herself to teach the other women how to properly throw stones.
As dusk came on we repaired to a selected part of Hook Heath - a far from blasted heath; indeed, owing to the golf course, a somewhat over-sophisticated heath that lies in front of my house. And near the largest fir tree we could find I dumped down a collection of nice round stones. One has heard of people failing to hit a haystack; what followed was rather on those lines. I imagine Mrs Pankhurst had not played ball games in her youth, and the first stone flew backwards out of her hand, narrowly missing my dog. Once more we began at a distance of about three yards, the face of the pupil assuming with each failure -and there were a good many -a more and more ferocious expression. And when at last a thud proclaimed success, a smile of such beatitude - the smile of a baby that has blown a watch open - stole across her countenance, that much to her mystification and rather to her annoyance, the instructor collapsed on a clump of heather helpless with laughter.
(source: Spartacus-Educational.com)
She served during World War I.
After serving her two years as part of the suffrage movement, she returned to her composing career, and traveled to Germany just a month or so before the start of World War I. After the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, all her plans for upcoming performances were cancelled, and she quickly moved to the southern coast of France. She joined her sister Nina and the painter Lady Helena Gleichen in Italy, where they'd set up an ambulance outfit. But that did not suit her, and she returned to France, this time to learn how to become a radiographer, and using her new-found skills to assist wartime surgeons to locate embedded shell fragments in the bodies of wounded soldiers.
‘I wrote that book [Impressions That Remained] while doing radiographic work in a French Military hospital. Locating bits of shell, telling the doctor exactly how deeply embedded they are, watching him plunge into a live although anaesthetised body that shall prove you either an expert or a bungler is not a music inspiring job, but writing memoires in between whiles was a delightful relief’.
(Source: Exploring Surrey's Past)
She was an avid sportswoman.
She remained physically active and vibrant her entire life. Owning a home across from a golf course was no coincidence.
Dame Ethel was an active sportswoman throughout her life. In her younger days she was a keen horse-rider and tennis player. She was an enthusiastic member of the Woking Tennis Club and won a book as a tournament prize. She lived in Surrey for most of her life – first at ‘Frimhurst’ in Frimley, then finally, at Brettanby Cottage, Hook Heath in Woking, near the golf course. She was a passionate golfer and a stalwart member of the Ladies section of Woking Golf Club but, typically, was known to have marched through the Mens section on at least one occasion -- an act forbidden at the time. It was her proud boast that she never lost a golf ball and she would spend hours, accompanied by her dog, searching through the rough for the result of a directional error! Dame Ethel died in 1944 and at her own request, after cremation at Woking Crematorium, her ashes were scattered in the woodland next to the golf course.
(Source: Exploring Surrey's Past)
What a remarkable woman!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Kickstart This!

What does "family" mean to you?

To me, I think of both the wonderful people I've been fortunate to be both biologically and legally related to, and the amazing people I've gathered around me to build my "urban family." Together with these people, I've been able to build a safe, supportive, loving buffer around me, so that whenever we are all together, it just feels like "home."

I know I am truly blessed in that I have both kinds of an awesome family. I have dear friends for whom their only family that deserves the title is the collection of friends they've made as adults. I also have dear friends for whom growing up in unusual families was a challenge until they realized that the only thing that really mattered was the bonds of love.

I know it might be some heavy thinking for what is supposed to be a blog post about a child's book, but this is what I think about when I look at the artwork and read the blurbs for Victoria Jr. 
Being the only human in a world of creatures and magical things might seem overwhelming to most, but not Victoria. She embraces her uniqueness and strives to create, like her father and her grandfather.

I know I say this for pretty much every project I share here, and at the risk of wearing it out, I'm going to say it again: I just adore this project.
Victoria Jr. is a collection of stories about the only human girl living in a world of creatures that were created by Frankenstein's Monster. The monster took her in and named her after Victor, his creator. She was adopted into the Monster's family. It's a place for her to feel safe and be herself. The book is about her embracing her misfit nature in a loving adoptive home.
And I love the story behind this project.
The Idea was inspired by a local organization called Sally's House. They take in kids who've been removed from their homes. We love what they do in providing a safe haven for children who go through trauma to have safety and protection. With budget cuts and increasing demand Sally's house needs our support, so we're using the success of Victoria Jr. to host a fundraising event later this year as well. 

In fact, I love this project so much I hunted down the creator of this project, Manny Trembley, and asked him a zillion questions. And he answered them!

You just reached your THIRD stretch goal! How awesome is that? You've still got a couple of weeks, and it doesn't look like the number of backers is showing signs of slowing down. What's the next goal going to be?

I'm honestly a little shocked we hit $10,500 in 2 weeks. It's pretty intense. It's ultimately why I do Kickstarters. Putting your art/story in the hands of fans (or hopeful fans) it makes everything more personal. I love that.

My first Kickstarter, Martin Monsterman did a little over 12k and had 279 backers. Victoria Jr. is looking to demolish both of those. I'm nervous-excited.

As I type this I am looking at having 2 branches of further stretch goals. The first is backer numbers. I'd love to see 500 backers before this is over. My wife Lisa said she wants to see double what it is. 600-700. Yikes. If we hit 500 backers we will give buttons, magnets, bookmarks as a thank you to most of the pledge levels. We haven't ironed that out yet.

The second is probably going to be a coloring book at $13-14,000, with 16-24 pages of Victoria, family and monsters. This will probably be a combination of existing book art and other stuff I make. I feel the need to keep making art before work, over lunch and late at night. If we hit that then I have a small art book I want to print that is called Monster Book of Hugs. It's a collection of Victoria hugging and hanging out with all kinds of monsters/creatures. It's all still being formed. So don't hold me to this until you see it on the Kickstarter.

I have seen the illustrations of Victoria hugging different monsters on your Facebook page, and let me tell you, I'd want one of those for myself. So cute.

I really like how Victoria is adopted and finds acceptance and love in a non-traditional family. I think it's important for kids to be able to see their own unique family structures represented in the stories they read. Can you tell me a little about your inspiration for creating these characters and this series of stories?

I was raised in a family where I didn't realize the man I called "Dad" was not my biological father. I learned that in 6th grade. I took my dad's last name at that point and was legally adopted as his son. Stories about fathers and their children is something that is a big deal for me. And now that I am a dad (a 4.5 year old and 3 year old, both boys) I feel an even stronger pull to write and express how I feel about fatherhood.

I also love to pieces Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It's a personal favorite. I'm a fan of the created/creator discussion at play in that book and it has fueled a plethora of stories in that world of monsters, parents and children. I came up with Victoria almost accidentally. I named her that because The Monster named her after Victor Frankenstein. At the time he named her Junior because he didn't know it wasn't typical to name a girl junior. So, technically her name is Victor Frankenstein Jr.

As a dad the idea of creating a home that is safe and loving is super important to me. I'm no expert in parenting but it seems to me that a home filled with unconditional love and care allows a child to express themselves more, maybe step out a little more, more willing to fall and make mistakes and potentially creates a security knowing that the parents love them no matter what. I love to hear that my boys love "Momma Night" (time with just her) and they love "Boys Night" (Mom's night out). So, for me, Victoria Jr. and its cast is the expression of that home for a child to be confident, daring, bold and empowered. Empowered through support and love and not only through their inner self work. There are plenty of stories about a person, girl or boy that must become these things on their own. And that is admirable and inspiring. But as a parent with the capacity and desire to build a home of unconditional love, I want to embolden my children with and through love. Some might think this is cheesy. But there it is.

Cheesy is good. I like cheesy.

The other important thing that I want to capture is that notion of imperfection in family. I might paint a picture of perfect, unconditional love. I know that we don't live in that world. Parents yell. They get mad. They have baggage and an entire life that influences their parenting as well as all the things that haunt them. The Monster for me is that idea personified. Talk about a rough upbringing. The Monster was not loved at "birth." He was despised. He could not live up to his father. Victoria is being raised by an imperfect man/creature.

Kids eventually learn that mom and dad are NOT perfect. I feel it crucial to apologize to my boys. Ask for forgiveness. Tell them "I don't know" when I don't know. Walk with them instead of pretending I'm SO far ahead of them. So this book rides the two ideals.

I feel like I need to make some comment about making mistakes and being human, but...

Is this the Sally's House you're helping? What's your connection with their work? Why did you select them as your beneficiary?

Indeed that is the place. Last summer I participated in a charity softball event to raise money for Sally's House. It was my first interaction with them. My good friends were the people running that event. And I also exist in a constant quandary regarding the point of my art. Does it have merit? If so, why? I want my art to have meaning without being a "self-help" book or a direct tale of morality. So I made the decision to infuse my stories with my heart's intent to love kids. More specifically, hurting kids. Kids who might not have the type of home I want for my children (and all kids).

In January I decided to just jump in. Make a book that is inspired by the idea of kids in a loving home. I had drawn 24 pages last October of Victoria. It felt like it fit for my next book and it had the same DNA of Sally's House without being a direct story about a child being taken from a home and then being kept safe, etc. That was too on the nose.

I met with my friends, Jason and Ashlee Talley, who ran the softball event and asked for them to help me figure this out. They've been amazing fonts of knowledge and support. I shared my goal.

Step 1: Make a book and get it funded.
Step 2: Run a fundraiser for Sally's House.
Step 3: Do it again every year if they'll have me.

I can see if this fundraiser is successful we'll look for other organizations to help. The world is rife with people to help. So, instead of doing nothing, I am choosing to do what little I can. If I raise $500 for those kids that will be awesome.

After I met with my friends, I posted to Facebook, "if anyone wants to help me run a fundraiser for a non-profit with my book, PM me." My friend Ray messaged me within minutes and he is now a massive help as we barrel forward towards my first fundraiser for kids. It's a dream come true for me.

Yes, Ray is the person who brought Victoria Jr. to my attention on Google Plus!

I can't stop thinking about how loving her relationship with her family is. The image of her and her dad for "Wrong Side of the Bed" just warms my heart so much. Is there an autobiographical aspect to your work as well?

Sure. My boys are a font of inspiration. Wrestling, playing, coloring, going for walks, adventures, pillow floors, "got your nose," etc. When they stub a toe or bonk a head, I offer to swap body parts. It's become quite the game.

Also, we want to adopt. More specifically, my wife is excited to adopt a little girl. And it scares me. Adding another child scares me. Adding a girl to our home scares me. I think this book on a more personal note is me wrestling a little with adopting a girl. I feel the pull to adopt a little girl. My boys say we should but deep down, I'm scared and that fear is something I need to wrestle with.

What has been the most surprising thing that's happened since you launched this project? Has anything fun or interesting come up that you didn't expect?

Well, the success of this Kickstarter has been a little mind-numbing. And humbling. There is a little girl who offered her piggie bank money for Victoria Jr.

I didn't set out to make a girl hero. I've been told numerous times that there are not enough empowered young girl characters in comics or cartoons. And a fair number are seeing Victoria Jr. as that type of inspiration. That's a little scary for me as I set out to make story about family and this little girl is fast becoming more than simply a character in a book.

I can't speak for everyone, obviously, but I think that's exactly what I'm most excited about. She's just a kid, doing awesome stuff, who happens to be a girl. She's not representing the entirety of girl-hood. 

I love Kickstarter. I love making books. And I love the idea that a book can be more than just a book.

Yes. A good book is quite often more than just a book.

So there you have it, folks. If you're not already backing Victoria Jr., you really should be.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Kickstart This!

So you say you want more women in comics who break out of the "strong female character" trope? Maybe some queer women who are complex, fully-human characters? Well, Cassius is the comic for you!
Cassius is a fun twist on a classic hero’s journey with some kickass queer female characters, all inspired by Julius Caesar! It follows our main character Junia, whose ordinary life comes to a grinding halt after a terrifying event alters the course of her fate forever. That one event forces her to become the bearer of a mark that identifies her as Cassius – a legendary figure said to bring about great change.

Written and illustrated by real-life couple Emily Willis and Ann Uland, Cassius tells the story of Junia, our kickass lesbian heroine.
Inspired by Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and the events of history, Cassius is set in a Roman-esque universe centered around the collection of states know as Latium. The story follows our heroine Junia, who belongs to the Latium state of Cyrentha, and believes herself to be no more than ordinary. But one single act of violence suddenly thrusts Junia into a world of politics, betrayal, greed, bloodshed, and fate - and Junia must overcome it all if she is to survive.

For in this world there is the legend of Cassius, one person who bears a cursed mark that will bring about great change. Such change will either be for Latium's benefit or lead to its complete destruction.

It is Junia who now bears this mark, and she is about to take part in something that is much more than any one person can bear alone.
I think what I love the most about this project is that it's a re-telling of a classic story, with a decidedly feminist twist! There's a reason these stories have stayed with us over the centuries -- they're human stories. It's high time we started telling them including a wider cast of characters! I just heard about Cassius today, and already I'm in love. The feminist history nerd is me is doing a happy dance.
Cassius has so many fun plot threads to it. I loved reading a good adventure story that kept building the stakes higher and higher and got me invested in it – that’s what Cassius aims to do. I’m also a huge fan of that “write women as people” saying that goes around social media. That’s so important to me — and for some reason, I see a lot of people equate “strong female character” with “cold and stoic” and it just doesn’t need to be that way. So Junia – our main character – isn’t some unfeeling person just because she’s been given this gigantic task. Junia will be frustrated, and determined, and happy, and all these other things along her journey, because people are full of complex emotions. I want Junia and the rest of the cast to feel real, and for their choices to be full of consequences.
(source: Comicsalliance.com)

You've only got a couple more days to get in on this project! Go. Support Cassius!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Kickstart This!

Quick... how many women in science can you name? (Hint: I sincerely hope it's more than Marie Curie, or I haven't been doing my job.)

When Anouk Charles and Benoit Fries went looking for STEM inspiration for their daughter, they realized their lack of knowledge about female scientists. When they asked their friends for help and learned how sadly common this situation was they took matter into their own hands. With the help of an illustrator friend, they developed their Women in Science Card Game, featuring leading women in science throughout history.
The fundamental idea is to familiarize players with women who have left their mark on science and often did not receive the recognition they were due. This isn’t just a question of fairness and gender equality, it’s also a matter of offering role models with whom young girls can identify.

It’s hardly surprising that few girls display an interest in physics or mathematics when they never hear about women who made extraordinary discoveries in these spheres.

20% of the profits generated by the game will be donated to local organizations promoting women in science.
They game play is easy enough for even younger players to be able to pick up the game and start playing right away -- match four cards of the same color to form sets or "labs" with the first player to make three labs the winner -- but interesting enough to hold the attention of older players. Each card features a clever illustration and a short description of what makes that scientist special.

I just love this idea! As a kid, I would have loved just reading the cards, using them as a kind of pocket encyclopedia. In fact, I could see parents or teachers using these cards to introduce new scientists to young people, and prompting them to seek out more info on each woman.

I wish I could order several sets to give them away as birthday and holiday gifts throughout the year. I'll have to settle for one set, and have to invite my favorite little future-scientists over to play cards.